I got home and turned on the first primetime telecast of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ABC, and although it's only in the first few minutes, I already find myself thinking this was a terrible mistake.
Having a girlfriend who's a spelling bee enthusiast, I have watched the ESPN telecasts in past years, and that's what I have come to expect. Only a few cameras, generally stationed in the back of the room, unobtrusively, recording the activity. Most important, the actual spelling of the word is not displayed on screen until after the contestant has made his/her attempt, either right or wrong.
ABC has cameras up on the stage, walking up to the contestants as they wait their turn. Worse yet, in cases where the contestant misspells the assigned word (and hears that horrible bell), follows the despondent child--often in tears--to the comforting arms of parents. And then stays there, tight shot on the moment of defeat.
ABC has also added some over-produced background stories on some contestants. Wow, all of them study a lot. What a shock! Now get back to the friggin' competition.
Worst of all, ABC is displaying the spelling of the word on screen part way through the contestant's turn. The contestants get two minutes, you miserable bastards! Don't presume all the viewers are too stupid to want to play along. I won't be able to spell most of these words myself (despite being much older than these kids), but I want the same two minutes (or as long as the contestant takes) to try figure it out.
And I don't want to know when they screw up when they're in the middle of spelling; I want to find out when they find out: when the bell does or doesn't ring.
Holy crap! Now they have a fluff piece when going to commercial where celebrities flail trying to spell words that any viewer who made it through junior high could spell. It's not cute. Really, it's not.
Disney Corporation, please put it back on your channel that understands competition. The "American Idol" crowd doesn't care; they don't get to vote.
Consider me disgusted. D-I-S-G-U-S-T-E-D.